The end of summer also heralded the end of Germany €9 public transport ticket — a tenth of the usual price. It was unsurprisingly popular with commuters, but people wondered what the next step was.
This week, the Berlin Senate announced its plan to secure funds for reduced-price BVG tickets.
Mayor Franziska GiffeyA monthly ticket price of €29 for zones AC has been agreed, with further discussion for the outer regions and the rest of Germany.
But what was the environmental impact of a €9 ticket, resulting in fewer car journeys?
Did the €9 ticket get people out of their cars?
Yes and no. According to the VDV, approximately 52 million tickets were sold nationwide over the three months. Another ten million subscribers a year automatically received discounted tickets.
As many as one in five buyers had never used public transport.
However, as I had previously expected, the main beneficiaries of the scheme were city dwellers who had access to public transportation at regular intervals. The survey found that ticket purchases were twice as common in urban areas.
About 10% of the 9 euro ticket users have left the car at least once to take the bus or train. Excuse me if I find this a little disappointing.
The research did show that new ticket buyers saved 15 kilometers per week on car traffic, while existing carriers saved 8 kilometers.
Still, Research from the RWI-Leibniz Institute for Economic Research in Essen, also showed that driving among 9-euro ticket buyers increased by an average of 18 kilometers per week in June compared to April, possibly due to better summer weather.
So it’s an improvement, but I’d be more interested in seeing the numbers at other times of the year when people have fewer holidays and bad weather makes waiting for public transport less attractive.
What was the environmental impact of the €9 ticket?
The average saving in greenhouse gases (CO2 equivalents) is around 600,000 tons of CO2 per month: about 1.8 million tons of CO2 in the campaign period. This corresponds to: more than 387,845 petrol passenger cars drove for a year.
Analysis by traffic data company Tomtom for the German news agency shows that 23 of the 26 German cities a reduction in traffic congestiona major cause of air pollution during rush hour — up to 14% in cities like Hamburg and Wiesbaden.
The €9 ticket increased regional and weekend travel, especially for people who usually can’t afford long-haul travel.
In addition, one of the ticket’s biggest wins has been a significant reduction in fare evasion, a problem that has plagued the city for decades. In 2008, Udo Plessow, director of the Plötzensee prison in Berlin, said: told The local who:
At least 155 of our 480 inmates have been jailed in lieu of payment for fare evasion… Actually we have more than that, but when the men are also convicted of another crime they are not separately registered for fare evasion .
This number has only increased. According to the government of the Senate of Justice, in 2018, about 330 people were locked up every year for failure to pay fines for fare evasion. There is something inherently problematic about incarceration for failing to pay a transport fine.
The activists working on free and cheap transport
Like all cities, Berlin has its share of tariff evasion. The reasons range from intentional to accidental. We are talking about a confusing transport system with a plethora of tickets that makes it easy for tourists to make mistakes and therefore vulnerable to fines.
The German capital also has a long history of resistance when it comes to paying for public transport. An example is a campaign where people with an annual pass (who can take someone for free after 8 p.m. and on weekends) wear a badge that invites people without a ticket to join them when the judges get on the train.
A rate evasion fund?
The day after the €9 ticket expired, a campaign for cheap transport surfaced in Germany. called 9 Euro Fund, it invites people to pay €9 monthly in a collective pot. Any fines will then be paid by the collective.
It is not the first initiative of this kind; similar schemes existed in France and Belgium in the late 1990s.
But the idea is perilous. First, if the fund doesn’t grow big enough to cover fines, you have no recourse. Furthermore, ticket control violence during ticket control is not uncommon in Berlin, where BPoC and Asians are overrepresented. Even worse, a criminal record for tariff evasion can serve as a black mark for applications for permanent German or European citizenship.
Is the future free public transport?
There are more than 100 public transport schemes worldwide. These range from temporary when pollution or smog is high to free buses in Kansas and completely free in Luxembourg.
Ultimately, I am not convinced that Germany will ever free public transport — operating costs are way too high And that’s before we look at the cost of improving regional public transport.
It’s much more likely that we’ll see a carrot-and-stick ideology where it becomes less desirable to own a car, let alone drive and park, which inevitably makes public transport more attractive – in addition to micro-mobility options.